Really, What Default?

President Barack Obama and his…colleagues…in the Senate keep threatening national default if those Evil, Anarchist, Terrorist Jihadi Republicans don’t promptly shape up and pass a budget, raise the debt ceiling, and otherwise give him a blank check.  One of his more recent threats is this:

…if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting.

Let’s look at some numbers:

So much for default.  Federal revenues exceed debt payments by roughly 12:1.  There’s a double potful of money left over, too, even by DC standards—nearly $2.5 trillion.

What other major expenses are there?

  • Social Security and Medicare payouts in 2012 (close enough to 2013 outlays for this discussion) were a combined $1.4 trillion.
  • Medicaid and CHIP transfers to the states in 2012 ran to $260 billion.

(Incidentally, the various Social Security System trust funds had some $2.6 trillion on hand as of 2012.  Although payroll tax revenues aren’t enough to cover outlays, so that pile is being drawn down, there’s plenty to last through quite a long delay in raising the debt ceiling.  Let’s assume for the sake of this illustration, though, that the SS/Medicare outlays are being paid out of the general revenues.)

Our debt payments are easily covered (so no default) and so are our entitlement payments (so our seniors and our poor are taken care of), and we have $840 billion in annual Federal revenues left to spend on such minor matters as national defense, Federal payroll, scheduled payments to government contractors, and so on.

Certainly, those Federal revenues come in in fits and starts, but that’s the environment any private sector business faces all the time.  They plan ahead so they can deal with those uneven flows.  The Federal government can do such planning, also.

The only way a default will happen will be if Obama decides not to make the debt payments.  The only way our seniors and poor will be hurt will be if Obama decides to withhold payments to them.  His only purpose for doing such shameful things is to make a political point, to heap blame on Republicans for his own failures.

One last thing: it’s interesting to note that he’s threatened to veto a House proposal to mandate prioritizing Federal outlays.

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